This is kind of a cool little link here, True Tales of Kids Turning Down Sweets.
I actually have only read a few. Azita is a littlle candy treat hoarder, and I have wondered at times if it is because we made it seem like something to hoard. The other day when I was putting Ada to nap, Azita got into the bag of organic Trader Joe’s lollipops and ate 6 that I found. A few week later we moved the couch to vacuum and found 6 more.
I want to let her regulate herself when it comes to treats. And I think the belief that a child at this age can’t is very influenced by our own perceptions of food and our own ability to control ourselves at adults. Just read this post “The Saga of the Flower Cake” by a mom whose child knew he reacted to something, but really wanted it, so he ate a tiny bite every day, just enough to let himself have it but NOT get symptoms, at the age of 5.
We, as parents, society, have the choice to see our kids as either fabulous and smart and able to make the right choices, or to see them as little manipulating opportunists out to push their limits and get only what the want and eat all the sugar in the world that they can get their hands on.
Now I have to add, after that little societal judgement of a paragraph, that we are trying to let Azita make those choices with varying levels of success.
Did she eat 12 lollipops at once because I tell her that sugar suppresses the action of her immune system and she can only have one every few days and she wanted to get it all in as she could? Or did she eat that many because she is unable to control herself?
Now the issue gets a little more complex. It is clear, from the two links I mentioned, that when allowed, some children will absolutely make moderate, mature choices about what and how much to eat.
But what if a child has family members on all sides that have issues with carbs? Issues with over-eating? Issues will limiting themselves to moderate amounts of things?
Going gluten-free wasn’t that hard for me, but going baked goods free? Harder. Much harder, actually. I don’t like to admit it really, but giving up a daily or every other day rice-flour baked muffin, fruit pie or cookie makes me sad, and I’m a firm believer that *not* eating something should not make you sad! If it does, you’ve got an issue! (And I mean that in the MOST loving and understanding way, because I have been there. Being on an elimination/addition diet with Ada for 12 months or more taught me a lot about myself and food that I didn’t know).
At least, it used to make me sad. Now it’s not as hard as it used to be. But I really craved baked goods each and every morning for a long time. And I bounce back and forth between thinking I crave them too much and that it’s not normal to eat an entire batch of cookies at once, and thinking, “hey, I eat an amazing unprocessed, whole foods, unboxed, high-organic diet and if I want to eat a whole thing of homemade rice flour cookies, so be it!!”
But it’s really getting much easier as I focus on raw foods, stews with organic meats, and seeds and nuts.
I do feel like I have an issue with carbs and maybe blood sugar. If there is something carby in a meal, I can eat so much of it, too much of it. And as I have given up gluten and sugar and my compulsion for baked goods, I’ve felt better and better and I’ve felt the *need* for those carbs less and less.
Some people might wonder why it matters if you crave a food? If you crave it, doesn’t your body need it? Not necessarily. IT depends on if the foods acts on your body the way a drug or chemical does, making you want it in a weird way. If you can’t say no, like absolutely can’t stop eating something, it is not good for you.
And this gets into the belief that some kids are “picky eaters” and that is just how they are. So many mothers have found that their cihld’s picky eating goes away when they stop eating a food they are intolerant to.
And as we are trying to let Azita choose her own foods, she has tried some gluten a few times in the past few months. Reliably, she gets clingy, whiny and has tummy aches and some digestive issues. We are trying to help her make the connection. So far it hasn’t been amazing the way some of those stories I linked too are, unforetunately. But she has plenty of time to grow up. And, you guessed it, she becomes a *much* pickier eater for the week or so after eating gluten or dairy.
And I don’t believe in “hiding” healthy foods in dishes, a tactic made popular by a few different cook books a few years ago. Then I am cutting off my children’s ability to choose right from the start. Better to get their diet clean and let them decide.
Basically, a kid whose body is reacting to something may crave only that food and have aversions to other foods. It has to do with chemicals and hormones. Because the body is intolerant to the food, it reacts to it strangely. It can act on dopamine receptors, similar to the way a drug acts on our body.
So picky eating can be a sign of food intolerance because, either
(1) the kid wants that food her/his body reacts to almost exclusively or
(2) the body is trying to protect itself from further assault by toxins, in this case, the food the body is
mistaking for a toxin.
I’ve talked to several moms who ask me about this stuff and say “but what will I feed him without wheat or dairy? All he eats are cheese and crackers!!” and that’s the big clue. Another mom I know realized that her kids wild hyper-active behavior
had gotten worse after eating some new frozen meal thing from Whole Foods, I believe. He would widly flapping his arms and run around and was uncontrollable and was asking for only that snack, and she realized that he was eating them to the point it seemed weird. It turned out, the boy reacted to canola oil and that was the only thing she happened to buy that had it.
That’s a less common trigger, but it can be anything.
Along these same lines as how picky eating becomes a sign of food intolerance people having a hard time giving up a food say things that sound a lot like rationalized. I spoke with one mom one day who was near tears at the thought of giving up dairy for her child. She ultimately decided to wean to formula so that she didn’t have to change her diet. Not the choice I would have made, but I try not to be judgemental. I guess that is why I like talking about this stuff, to share information that has helped me.
And so her daughter has a dairy allergy, and yet she eats cheese in front of her. She told me that she tried to give it up too
but she didn’t feel good without it. She rationalizes that she must need something in the cheese to be healthy. It sounds ALOT more like withdrawal to me.
“Just a little bit of cheese won’t hurt me. Everything is okay in moderation. If I don’t eat it, I’ll get a headache. I won’t eat alot and I try not to do it in front of her.” Replace the word cheese with crack, and we’d be sending her to a rehab facility.
Our bodies are meant to love wholesome variety. If we are craving only one thing or refuse most things, it is a sign
of something. And gluten and dairy both actually have scientifically discoveredaddictive substances, so it is hard to give up. Casomorphin is the one for dairy, I don’t remember the gluten/wheat one. But foods aren’t supposed to be
hard to give up, for an adult or a kid.
Also interesting is that the whole picky eating phenomena is now being studied in adults. Hopefully, people will begin to catch on for their health and their kid’s health. Sheesh, I even think it become a social issue. A lot of moms too, notice their ADD diagnosed kid changes dramatically with dietery changes. And with obesity in children on the rise… we’re all going to have to wake up soon. Our country is not headed for health disaster, we are already there!
It hasn’t been easy with Ada, but she really saved us. I have not doubt in my mind, that me or my husband might have developed some chronic condition, common to industrialized nations, has we continued eating a SAD (standard american diet). Earlier this week I ate some tortillas made in a facility with wheat. I had some stomach pain, a headache and this back pain that I used to always have but now only comes every few months. It could be a coincidence, but you know I don’t think it is.